This article was originally published on PR Daily in February 2016.
Implementing a search engine optimization strategy isn’t enough to get you on the first page of Google’s search results.
Even with an SEO plan in place, there is a good chance it isn’t working the way you hoped.
There are a number of reasons your SEO strategy is failing to get you to the coveted front page. Without an understanding of what you’re doing wrong, your content will be stuck in the middle of the pack.
Here are three of the most common—and crippling—mistakes to avoid:
1. You’re not using the right keywords.
Determining the best keywords for you and your organization can be difficult, especially if you’re working in a highly populated category.
The most common keyword-related mistakes include using single-word keywords instead of long-tail keywords, hoping to get noticed using popular keywords, and targeting keywords that are too specific (or not specific enough).
If you’re using single-word keywords or highly popular keywords, you’re bound to get lost in the results that appear after a general search. If you can’t compete with the budgets that many million-dollar companies set aside to ensure first place spots, it’s essential to your SEO strategy that you find a keyword path around them.
In your quest to find the best keywords, don’t be too specific or too broad. If you optimize a keyword that is too broad, potential customers will have a hard time finding you and lost seekers of a different service might find their way to your page.
On the other hand, if no one searches for the keywords you’ve selected, you won’t be found. Either way, don’t make potential customers struggle to reach your page.
Select keywords that are specific enough to describe your organization well, but broad enough that they will be typed into a search bar.
2. You’re not using digital marketing tools.
Digital marketing tools help you see what is working and what isn’t, so you know where your strategy is strong—and where it needs support.
Everything from analytic trackers to goal trackers fall under the data visualization tools category, and all are necessary if you want to see your SEO efforts succeed.
If you are only measuring the success of your SEO strategy by an increase in business, you’re unlikely to see the results you’re anticipating. Optimizing your website’s content takes time, effort and continuous improvements. Treating SEO as a one-time project can only do so much, and it’s likely to be very little.
Management tools give you the ability to track and understand the side of SEO you couldn’t see before and measure results beyond a standard increase in business. The tools you choose can provide you with information from how many new visitors you’re seeing on your website to potential keywords that may work better for your business.
Getting help from computer software/hardware, online programs or other marketing tools is necessary in creating a strong SEO strategy. Constant technological changes require increased comprehension of your site’s effect on the hardware it interacts with.
An intro to networking courses can give you the competitive advantage needed to fully grasp any server related issue flagged on your site. Don’t allow your efforts to fail because you’re not adapting and adjusting.
3. You’re not targeting your customers.
Your SEO strategy needs to revolve around what your customers—or potential customers—look for when they need your product or service. If you don’t understand who your customer is, your SEO strategy is bound to fail.
Targeting the wrong audience will not increase your business even if your SEO strategy puts you on top on the results page. Similarly, if you’re not appearing in the results for the correct audience, those searching for your business won’t be able to find you.
A good way to see if you are reaching the right customer is to check out your bounce rate—the number of individuals who come to your website and leave without looking around. If your bounce rate is high, you are probably appearing in the wrong search results and your SEO strategy will need to be adjusted.
Take the time to understand whom your target customer is and reflect on how they might be searching online. An older customer isn’t going to search the web the same way a teenager would. Your keywords must represent the audience that brings you the most business.
Getting the right SEO strategy takes trial and error. With a lot of attention and a little adjusting, you can find your way to the first page of search engine results and increase your website traffic, leading to your organization’s success.
Finn Pierson is a freelance technology writer.